2017-09-07 / Business News

Kevin Kearns

Chief executive officer, Millennium Health Care


Kevin Kearns Kevin Kearns Physician-based organization strives for culture of excellence

WHO AM I?

NAME: Kevin Kearns

TITLE AND COMPANY: Chief executive officer, Millennium Health Care

YEARS WITH THE COMPANY: 2

YEARS IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA OR YEARS IN COUNTY: 40

NATURE OF BUSINESS: Health Care

EDUCATION: B.S., College of William and Mary, M.B.A., University of South Florida

HOMETOWN: Fort Myers

What improvements, innovations or changes do you foresee in your industry?

It is a very exciting time to be in health care! The advancements in preventing, diagnosing and treating health conditions continues to improve at a rapid pace. Despite all the challenges we hear about in Washington, we still have the best health care and the best doctors in the world. Of the many changes on the horizon in the industry, the one that is most significant may be the change from a “volume-based payment system” to a “value-based approach.” The traditional way that hospitals and doctors received payment was based on the amount and complexity of services provided (volume based). Over the past few years, we have begun to see the shift in payments being based on quality, patient experience and efficiency in controlling costs (value). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has set a goal that 90 percent of Medicare payments will be value based by 2018. To help push this along, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) in 2015 with overwhelming bipartisan support. (98-2 in the Senate!) MACRA will fundamentally change the way Medicare pays hospitals and doctors by rewarding for quality and participation in value based payment models, and financially penalizing hospitals and doctors that do not move in this direction. One example of the shift to value-based care today is the introduction of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Medicare introduced this program in 2012 as a way to encourage health care providers to focus on quality, patient experience, and efficient use of health care costs. For ACOs that demonstrate success in these areas, CMS shares savings generated with the providers. Millennium has been a part of the ACO program since 2013 and invested in our care teams to help manage the complete health needs of our patients. With this focus on the patient, Millennium has achieved national recognition as one of the top five ACOs in the country!

Name the top three elements or practices that have been absolutely critical in the success of your business?

Our incredible physicians, advanced providers and health care team. The foundation of Millennium is a physician based organization focused improving the health of our patients. We strive for a culture of excellence.

Our focus on the patient engagement. We understand that our patients have a choice in choosing their health care provider. We are very focused on ensuring that our patients have the best experience from the time they make an appointment, to the office or hospital visit, to the ongoing care management to support their health and wellness.

Our ability to connect our patients to the appropriate health care setting whether it be in our offices, other providers in the community, hospitals, home health, skilled nursing facilities, etc. As the primary care physicians for over 200,000 patients in our community, we welcome the incredible responsibility of managing the comprehensive health care needs of our patients.

What are things you’d like to change about your industry now?

Many times, the health care industry makes it so difficult on the patients. Going to see the doctor may not be very convenient and often can be an anxious time for patients, family members, and care givers. Waiting for an appointment or a test result only adds to the anxiety. With technology, we have seen tremendous improvements in the banking, travel, shopping and other industries. Consumers are used to doing research on the internet at all hours and getting immediate responses. Although making some progress, health care in general has not moved near as fast as other “service industries.” At Millennium, we are very focused on making health care easier for our patients.

As patients become more involved in their health care choices (like they have done with banking, travel and shopping), there will also be the opportunity to become more responsible for key decisions that can improve the quality and cost of their health care. For example, using smartphones to respond to health reminders (e.g., taking prescription medications, ensuring to get their annual wellness visit), fitness programs, nutritional needs, will lead to healthier outcomes, better management of chronic diseases, fewer visits to hospitals and emergency rooms and lower costs to the health care system.

What will you base your success on for 2018?

As the health care system continues the transformation from a payment system based to volume to that of value, our success will largely be measured on the quality of the care we deliver, which includes patient experience, and our ability to ensure that the patient receives the care in the best possible setting.

How are you using technology to improve your business?

Technology is becoming a large part of health care. It’s not just the state-of-the-art machines within the offices or our Imaging Centers. It’s technology that impacts and changes the lives of our patients. Within the last decade all health care systems and physician practices were required to implement an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. In the last few years, we have seen where an online Patient Portal has taken the forefront. It allows for patients to manage their health information, message their Providers, refill prescriptions and view lab or test results. It provides 24/7 access to your provider and we’re seeing that once our patients access it that they truly do like the convenience it brings. Within the last year, Millennium has launched innovative initiatives to assist our patients and providers in their care including:

Skip the Line - Our “Skip-The-Line” feature allows patients to easily get an appointment at one of our Walk-in Medical Centers. Patients can visit our website, see current wait times and sign up for a time that is convenient for them. The technology will send a text when it is time for the patient to arrive, which cuts down on the wait times for patients. We know if our patients need to visit a walk-in that they aren’t feeling well and need to see a doctor quickly. Our job is to make it easier for them to get to the doctor.

Online lab appointments - We know our patients like to schedule their lab appointments online, which allows them to book appointments for times that work with their busy schedules, so we were happy to launch this new technology on our website earlier this year.

Online registration / early check-in for appointments - We’ve also launched new technology that allows patients to check-in online before their appointment. Similar to how a customer may check-in early for an upcoming flight, the technology cuts down on paperwork and registration process in the offices. Patients are able to check right in for their appointment and from recent positive feedback we know our patients really like this added convenience!

Tele-Medicine - Millennium is currently piloting tele-medicine for how we can roll out this new service to our patients in the next few months. Tele-medicine continues the trend where if a patient needs to speak to a health care provider — no matter if it’s at midnight — you can reach a health care provider 24/7. Health care continues to change and patients want new technology and convenience that work for them.

Technology will continue to be a large part of health care moving forward. It’s a large part of our everyday lives now so it makes sense for it to be in the health care field.

How are you growing and developing your employee skills?

Growing and developing our employees’ skills is a core part of our business, but recently we’ve been looking at ways to streamline the processes for our team. We’ve hired a director of health care learning and development for Millennium. Her role will be to foster employee talent and professional growth, as well as align all of the various training offerings under the banner of Millennium University. We are so excited about the launch of our Millennium University program for our team and providers.

How are you recruiting new talent into your organization?

We are focused on always recruiting top talent to Millennium. We have a team that travels across the United States to recruit top providers to the Southwest Florida area to care for our patients. Our team also works with students who are looking for experience in the health care field with our goal being to hire them at Millennium upon their graduation from medical school or their residency program. We’re also focused on hiring our veterans and placing them into roles within our organization. Our human resources department is consistently reviewing qualified candidates for positions within Millennium.

Who is a mentor to you within your industry?

I started my health care career 25 years ago at Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. I had the privilege to work with Lalai Hamric, the CEO at the time. She always made sure that we kept the patient at the center of focus in this complex, demanding, and sometimes very frustrating, business of health care. She insisted that doing what is right for the patient should always be the foundation for how to run the business. Lalai passed away this past year, however, her mark will forever be left on this community. ¦

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